For someone who is a recovering people pleaser, hard conversations have been my favorite topic to avoid. I used to run away from them. Do you think I am kidding? Nope. I ran right out the door and sped away just to avoid the discomfort of disagreement.
For the past few years, whether I like it or not, the Lord has been teaching me how to confront hard conversations with truth and grace. We discover in His word that He commands us to do so. So, here are five steps that you can take right now to make those difficult conversations a little less daunting.
1. Pray it out.
Prayer journals–they sound sweet and romantic, but sometimes they are just plain rough, real, and hard to keep up with. I am mediocre at best when it comes to keeping up with my prayer journal. Each year, I pick out the most beautiful handcrafted, leather-bound notebook with full intentions of writing down all of my thoughts and prayers in a poetic, perfect penmanship kind of way. Within a few days, it either seems to go unnoticed or is transformed into a battleground for my insecurities, doubts, and fear. My poetry and penmanship also go right out the window in the middle of the mess. But, I’m realizing that letting God into the mess is the most beautiful thing about the journal. So, I encourage you to pray it out, write it down, and don’t be afraid to make a mess when dealing with life’s difficult topics.
2. Give God an invitation.
Have you ever been mid-conversation when you remembered that you forgot to invite the most important voice? There have been so many times where I’ve told God about something but forgot to ask Him to be there for it. Give God an invitation. Ask Him to guide you and speak through you, and then allow Him to do what only He can do. Call out to our Emmanuel, who is God with us. He will lead and guide you through each season of life, so trust that you don’t have to go it alone.
3. Make space for grace.
All truth and no grace is like getting surgery without the anesthetic. All grace and no truth is like getting the anesthetic without the surgery. When you have hard conversations, speak with truth but don’t forget to leave space for grace every time. It’s hard to give grace if you are not practically aware of how much grace you have received. So, how much grace have you been given in the last ten years, ten months, or even ten minutes? Our God is the God of all grace. When we give to others what we’ve been freely given, heaven invades earth. Invade your hard conversations with massive amounts of grace.
4. Listen with love.
Sometimes, we don’t hear anything when we listen–we only listen to respond. Have you ever asked someone for their name and immediately forgot it? Listening with love takes practice and patience. Take some time to practice listening with love this week. When you catch someone’s name, try remembering it. If you forget, leave space for grace and ask again. Ask for their story. Practice listening to what they have to share without feeling like you need to follow up with something greater or more profound. Just listen with love.
5. Pour out peace like salt.
As Christ-followers, we are called to be the salt of the earth. (It wasn’t until after going a month without salt that I realized the depth of that statement.) We have the opportunity to flavor every facet of life with all the incredible God-seasoning that Christ gives us. And similar to salt, a little bit of peace goes a long way. It makes even the most difficult conversation more palatable. So, the next time you have a hard conversation, bring your salt shaker and give it a heavy pour. God will continue to work, even after the conversation ends, when you surrender the conversation to Him.